Circuit, Magistrate courts in Swedru run shift

BY: Gilbert Mawuli Agbey
The Swedru Circuit Court after the rainstorm
The Swedru Circuit Court after the rainstorm

The Swedru Circuit and the Magistrate courts have resorted to a shift system in the adjudication of cases.

The situation has come about because the entire roof of the storey building housing the courts was ripped off by a rainstorm on March 4, 2018.

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The building, located at Bebianiha, a suburb of Agona Swedru, houses the Magistrate Court on the ground floor and the Circuit Court on the first floor.

The storm left roofing sheets over the offices of the court registrar, the cashier and the bailiff, as well as the records office, the judge’s chamber and the entire courtroom completely destroyed, leaving the Circuit Court inoperative.

At a meeting to fashion out immediate steps to address the challenge with courtrooms to ensure that the trial of cases was not unduly delayed, the stakeholders resorted to running the shift system.


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Shift system

The Circuit Court adjudicates cases on Mondays and Tuesdays in the courtroom of the Magistrate Court, while the Circuit Court judge sits in chamber to settle cases between Wednesday and Friday.

The Magistrate Court takes its turn to use the courtroom from Wednesday to Friday, while its family tribunal cases are heard in camera on Tuesdays.

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Visit

When a team from the Daily Graphic visited the court premises last Tuesday, it observed that the situation was affecting the effective delivery of justice by both courts, as staff struggled with space to keep court records and other documents, while most of the confidential files were left at the mercy of the weather.

The team also observed that the building needed urgent attention to avoid further havoc to the edifice with the onset of the rains.

Staff lament

Some of the staff members who spoke with the Daily Graphic, on condition of anonymity, wondered why after several visits by officials of the Agona West Municipal Assembly (AWMA) and a team led by the Central Regional Administrative Officer of the Judicial Service, Mr Jehoshaphat Nyarko, the situation was still the same.

They called on the government, development partners, as well as benevolent individuals and organisations, to support the Judicial Service to reroof the building to help speed up the delivery of justice in the municipality.

Assembly’s intervention

When contacted, the Municipal Chief Executive for Agona West, Mrs Justina Marigold Assan, said the assembly had resolved to rehabilitate all government buildings that were destroyed by the rainstorm.

She said the reroofing of the Circuit Court would begin this week and was expected to be completed next week, adding that the assembly would also rehabilitate all school buildings that were affected by the rainstorm.

Background

On Sunday, March 4, 2018, Agona Swedru was hit by rainstorm which, lasted for about 30 minutes, but destroyed many private and public properties, including residences, school and church buildings, and claimed one life.